It’s been about a year since ChatGPT demonstrated our scariest science fiction scenarios were looming on the horizon. And yet, there are ways we can harness this thing to help us in our writing journey. Of course no author should use it to WRITE fiction for them. That defeats the purpose of being a writer. Writing should give pleasure, illuminate some dark recesses of our souls, allow emotional and intellectual escape and release. So, what would be the point of having a robot do the work for you?
No, that’s not what this post is about. The truth is that AI can help us in our writing and publication journey, in some very surprising, but specific ways.
1. Ask it to Critique Your Scene, Chapter, Story, or Entire Novel
AI can be a sensitive and intelligent reader. ChatGPT has a limit of 1000 words, but https://claude.ai doesn’t. You can paste your entire novel, as long as it’s under 85K words or so, and it will give you a sensible and useful critique. Run your work through this exercise before sending off to beta readers.
Make sure to give it guidance.
- Critique this scene for suspense and tension
- Critique this chapter for suspense and clarity
- Critique this novel (or short story) for tension, clarity, and pacing. Let me know if there are any slow parts or if any character motivations are muddy.
Worried about privacy? As far as I can tell, the work you post is stored temporarily, is de-identified (can’t be connected to YOU), and access to it is restricted.
If Stephen King is reading this, I’d say he probably shouldn’t post his next novel into claude.ai. But the rest of us? Why not?
2. Ask it to Find Comp Titles
Examples of prompts you might try:
- List 10 best selling crime novels from the past 5 years that have a female detective working in a small town
- List 10 best selling mystery novels from the past 5 years that are set on a windswept island and feature a missing teenager
3. Ask it to Find Words (a More Expansive Thesaurus)
My favorite thesaurus is https://www.wordhippo.com, but sometimes you need more than a word. Or you can’t think of the word at all, but just have a concept or feeling in mind.
Ask ChatGPT to list words defining a feeling, an experience, or even something really specific, like the word for the smell of rain. It won’t just give you the word, but its etymology!
Sometimes, for the sake of a sentence’s rhythm, you might need a word that has two syllables only, or three. Ask AI to help find the right one, or at least give you some food for thought.
4. Jump Start Your Research
Although I would not yet recommend you to do all your research with AI, it is an astonishingly good tool to start looking into something. It can point you in the right direction and explain anything that is confusing. If your character has to do something techy and you’re not a techy person, AI can certainly help. Same for just about anything, whether it’s history, science, or art.
It can find an example of a specific crime you might be considering writing, and give you a starting point with links to articles.
5. Ask for Creative Writing Prompts
Sometimes you just need to do a little exercise. Limber up before sitting down to the work at hand. AI can generate prompts that will get you going.